Pronouncing 2010

Are we in the year twenty eleven or the year two thousand eleven.

Doc Searls wonders,

Is it “twenty eleven” or “two thousand eleven”?

I’m hearing more of the former, I think. By that I mean “twenty eleven” is more commonly used than was “twenty ten,” an the “thousand” thing is wearing off.

Sooner or later it will have to. I doubt we’ll be saying “two thousand thirty two” when 2032 rolls around. “Thousand” persisted through the ’00s (the “aughts”), but is getting a bit stale now that we’ve turned the caledar up to eleven.

It was invariably “two thousand” for the first decade.  We began seeing the split last year, with some saying “twenty ten” but most still using the “two thousand and ten” formulation.  (I personally used the two interchangeably, preferring “twenty ten” but more often slipping back into habit with “two thousand ten.”)   But I think we’re turning the corner now, with “twenty eleven” catching on.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Robert Bowman says:

    The answer came to us on 1969 in the hit song by Zager and Evans. “In the year 2525”. Could you imagine if it was “In the year two thousand five hundred twenty five/ if man is still alive…”? Just doesn’t roll off the tongue.

  2. Jack says:

    I don’t recall during my lifetime in the twentieth century of years being pronounced as anything other than “nineteen whatever” so I don’t see any reason why it would be different after the awkwardness of “twenty oh-nine”.

  3. Joe says:

    The primary reason that years up to 2009 were widely pronounced two thousand one, two, etc. was that “twenty one” sounds like “21”, “twenty two” sounds like “22.” Its just confusing. Twenty ten is the first year that ambiguity went away, and it won’t come back.

  4. Mr Evilwrench says:

    I used the “thousand” formation, largely because calling a zero “oh” gets right under my skin. They’re different things; they should have different names. Anyway, now that you mention it, I’ll probably be shifting to the twenty formation. I’m sure it was that way last century just because there wasn’t a thousand in it anywhere.

  5. largebill says:

    For the first decade of the century it made sense to use two thousand. If you said twenty it would have sounded like you were saying 29 instead of what you meant 2009. Twenty eleven doesn’t getting misunderstood.

  6. Timothy Jaxon says:

    This year should be called Twenty-Yo. Craps players will get the reference.